First Druk Gyalpo and his men in colour
Tenzin Rabgye, ThimphuJan 1 2014
It took him three years of intricate effort to come out with the coloured version of the First Druk Gyalpo’s photograph. Deo Narayan, an entrepreneur, dedicated three hours every day, on the project for the last three years, to transform the black and white photograph of the First Druk Gyalpo ,Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck, into a coloured version.
Towards the final stage of the project, the entrepreneur said, he had to work the entire day, sometimes late into the night, to come up with the final product.
The photograph of the First Druk Gyalpo, with a few members of his court and personal guard, was taken by John Claude White, outside Trongsa Dzong, in 1905.
Deo Narayan had initially begun working on the photograph as a project of his own. He said he came out with an early version of the picture based entirely on his imagination. Even though it looked beautiful, he said, his initial project was historically flawed.
He, then, began correcting his work. Deo Kumar took help from historians like Dasho Bato Kap, Dasho Shingkhar Lam and Dasho Karma Ura. He said he also referred to volumes of books from Centre for Bhutan Studies, and The Raven Crown, among others. His endeavour was to find out the exact colour of the clothing, the First Druk Gyalpo and other people in the photograph, were wearing.
“The reason I did so much research and photo shopped the picture is because 500 or 600 years in the future, children might wonder what type of clothes people wore during Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck’s time.” He said during those time they could take a look at the picture and get a good idea of what it was like then, without having to do much research.
It is the second known photograph Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck wearing western socks and shoes. The gho, that he adorns, is still at the museum at the Taa Dzong in Trongsa.
According to the historians the photograph was taken right after Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck was presented with the insignia of the Knight Commander of the Indian Empire in 1905. They had travelled from Punakha where the ceremony was held.
John Claude White had taken two pictures at the time, it is not clear which one was the first. The first picture of Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck wearing western socks and shoes dates back to 1904 after a trip to Lhasa with the British.
Deo Narayan is currently working on his second project in which he plans to add colour to another picture, taken by John Claude White at Punakha in 1905 during the celebrations of Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck receiving the insignia of Knight Commander of the Indian Empire.